Interview with Simon Kemp
What got you interested in business strategy?
I’m quite nerdy by nature, so I love analysing things and looking for ways to improve them. I started my career at Accenture, so I got to dabble in strategy whilst developing large technology and management systems. I realised that I enjoyed the strategy part the most though, so I moved to a small strategy consultancy called ascension, where I got to work on some amazing projects like the development of global marketing frameworks for Unilever and InBev (now AmBev).
How did you begin your speaking career?
I’ve been facilitating client workshops for well over a decade since my days at ascension, but I got into the more ‘public’ side of speaking almost by accident. One of my UK colleagues at We Are Social was due to host a conference in Singapore, but when he couldn’t make it, I stepped in to host and present instead. As part of that, I discovered that I really enjoyed sharing new insights and provocations with people, and fortunately, I got invited to present at more conferences as a result of that first session. Everything grew organically from there.
Do you have a favourite experience from your speaking career?
Presenting just before Martin Sorrell at the International Advertising Association conference in London was one of the more daunting moments! Delivering a sell-out session at the Vivid festival in Sydney looking out over the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge was pretty memorable too. I really enjoy intimate sessions as well though; I recently presented at a small evening event in Tokyo, where the audience asked so many great questions that we ended up turning a 40-minute presentation into a 2-hour interactive conversation.
Why do clients typically hire you to speak?
All my presentations balance forward-looking trends and predictions with down-to-earth data, which is what makes them different to most other trend briefings. Many of my clients read my regular Global Digital reports, so they know that all the content and ideas that I share will be backed by data that tracks people’s actual behaviour, and so will translate into tangible business opportunities.
What kinds of clients have you worked with in the past?
I get a good mix, but marketing has been a recurring theme. Having said that, I’ve been getting requests relating to broader business tech recently too – areas such as AI, blockchain, and even bio-hacking. I’ve been really lucky in terms of breadth and variety too; I’ve presented at huge conferences with audiences numbering in the thousands, right down to very small groups at startups – and everything in between. I’ve presented all over the world too, which I’ve really enjoyed; the challenges of adapting insights and recommendations to new cultural and business contexts is something that I find particularly valuable.
What is your favorite keynote topic to speak about?
I’m most at home talking about the overlaps between digital technology and consumer behaviour, and how ongoing developments in these areas will shape the future of business and marketing.